Tree Radio Residency at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

I am delighted to be selected to for  a residency this summer at YSP as it is an ideal way to kick start a project for a site specific installation work called Tree Radio, which I have been researching since 2013. I am modifing trees to become radio transmitters of micro FM radio and play the sound of their own bio acoustic ‘voices’ alongside the voices of those who work to preserve trees. I aim to make people think about trees and the root of all wireless technology: radio, and how simple and green it can be to use. Wireless free and solar powered.

This is an multi-faceted artistic provocation, as the tree transmitters and receivers will reveal not only the hidden facets of organic tree life but those who work to preserve them, using simple FM wireless technology. I  wish to connect people with radio production, technology and simple electronics. This work addresses issues surrounding the rate that new digital technology often become outmoded as it uses 100 year old tried and tested wireless technology. I have been working at the intersection between art and technology and this project idea takes forward my current work.

I am interested in translating the internal responses of the trees to their environment into audible sounds. My initial research shows this project to be fully achievable, having worked with wooden boards and books to make radios and transmitters which were very sculptural, this has made me want to take the idea further using trees as radio receivers and transmitters on a much larger scale as a living installation.

The tree as a living organism and produces a faint electrical field which fluctuates in consonance with the state of the organism. By plugging the trees into a bio activity translator we can translate their biological processes and reactions to the events surrounding them as sound and broadcast them from the trees.
Visitors will be able to pick up the work on their own personal FM radios, on phones as well as hearing the tree broadcast gently emitting from the trees through solar radios.

The earliest and only documented forms of tree radio or “Tree Receivers” as they were called in Scientific American Journal in 1919 describes how trees can act “as nature’s own wireless towers and antenna combined.” General George Owen Squire, the U.S. Army’s Chief Signal Officer, described how “[all] trees, of all kinds and all heights, growing anywhere—are nature’s own wireless towers and antenna combined.” He called this “talking through the trees.” Trees remain the perfect aerial for radio. This project aims to make people discover the simplicity of setting up a tree radio station without destroying or harming the trees in any way and the simple electronics involved to achieve this.
New digital wireless communication today is often disguised as trees in the US, and this is a playful way of getting people to think about trees as transmitters and the potential and issues surrounding that. This work addresses issue surrounding the rate that new digital technology often become outmoded as it uses 100 year old tried and tested wireless technology.

Full details of the project as it unfolds are found at https://magzhall.wordpress.com/tree-radio/

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